From Germany to Singapore, solar power is fast transforming how nations, cities, and communities get their energy needs met.
However, the world still has a big reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity and power international trade. In fact, fossil fuels still supply around 84% of the world’s required energy – 33% comes from oil, 24% is from natural gas and 27% is attributed to coal.
However, like many other countries, the shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy with solar power leading the charge is inevitable.
Solar Energy vs Fossil Fuels: 10 Insightful Facts You Should Know
As the world continues to embrace solar power adoption across industries, power generation, and our own homes, the future is looking bright for the most abundant energy source on earth!
Here are our top ten facts about why solar energy is superior to fossil fuels and why it is the future.
1. Solar Energy Is Cost-Effective & Is Reaching Grid Parity
Solar PV prices have fallen over 59% over the last decade, prompting many consumers, both commercial and residential to start harnessing solar power as an energy source.
According to the IEA, solar energy can now generate electricity at or below US$20 per MWh in countries that have very favourable solar policies to support its financing.
In China and India, utility-scale solar projects cost just US$20-40 per MWh for their electricity generation, making it on par with conventional electricity generation costs from natural gas.
2. Solar Power Is more Environmentally Friendly Versus Fossil Fuel Plants
While solar power is renewable, it does have a carbon footprint – 100% renewable energy doesn’t mean 100% carbon-free energy.
The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) estimates that solar power produces a lifetime emission of 40g CO2 equivalent per KWh compared to natural gas (the least polluting of all fossil fuels) emission of over 400g CO2 equivalent / KWh.
That’s over 10 times higher!
When it comes to embodied energy use, which is the amount of energy needed to build the power stations and provide them with fuel to run, fossil fuels have a much higher embodied energy use of 11% compared to solar power at just 4%
In both short-term and long-term environmental comparison, solar energy wins hands down!
3. Electricity Generation From Fossil Fuels Passes Down A Carbon Tax
According to the International Monetary Fund, a carbon tax was implemented to combat air pollution and to spur the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy.
With the signing of the Paris Agreement, today, 25 countries have their version of a national carbon tax. Sweden for example has implemented a carbon tax of US$127 per tonne of CO2 emissions while Singapore has a carbon tax rate that is planned to reach up to $15 per tonne of greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
This means that in countries where the majority of electricity is still generated by fossil fuels, the carbon tax will likely be passed down to the end-consumers, increasing the overall electricity tariffs.
4. Solar Energy Stations Are Becoming More Efficient Fast
While fossil fuel generation plants are currently more efficient compared to solar power stations, solar PV’s energy efficiency isn’t far behind.
Comparatively, the efficiency of commercial PV cells falls between 15 to 21%.
However, as photovoltaic technology advances, this efficiency gap will start closing, making solar energy even more cost-effective down the road.
5. Global Giants Like China, USA & Germany Are Accelerating Their Solar Efforts
One undeniable fact about solar energy is its rapid adoption being led by global superpowers looking to lead the race in renewable energy.
China is looking to drive 4.2 TW of solar capacity under its decarbonisation plan by 2050.
The United States is accelerating their advancement and deployment of their solar technology to rapidly lower the cost of solar electricity to just 4 cents per kWh for residential PV and 5 cents per kWh for commercial PV by 2030.
Germany plans to reach an ambitious 100% renewable electricity supply by 2050 with solar and wind power leading the way.
6. The World’s First Intercontinental Power Grid Involves Solar Power
The Sun Cable project in Australia involves supplying Singapore with up to a fifth of her power needs – done through a 10-gigawatt solar farm and battery storage facility in the North Territory.
This gigantic solar project involves generating electricity through 12,000 hectares of solar panel arrays before being transmitted over a 4,500 km HVDC submarine cable!
7. Through Improvements In Battery Technology, Solar Power Is Being Used More By Homes
With the rise of more efficient solar energy storage batteries, residential homes across the world now have the ability to effectively harness the power of solar power.
This allows energy generated during the day to be stored for future use during periods when there is an outage or at night when the sun isn’t shining.
With the advent of more efficient solar batteries, it is predicted that around 20% of all new residential solar installations will be paired with an energy battery system.
8. Solar Power Is An Effective Energy Solution For Developing Nations & Rural Areas
Many developed countries are exploring sources of renewable energy, from wind power to geothermal power, not every nation has the resources or the opportunities for such endeavours.
Solar energy, on the other hand, is freely available and communities can take advantage of it be it in an urban or rural environment.
India, for example, is encouraging solar adoption in rural India and has a goal of 40GW of energy generation from decentralized rooftop projects.
9. Solar Energy’s Cost Is Continuously Dropping While Fossil Fuel’s Cost Will Inevitably Rise
While fossil fuels might currently be abundant, they are a finite resource that will get harder to extract and more expensive to use.
One great example is shale oil, which requires fracking to be done to extract it out, resulting in not just enormous financial cost but also damage done to the environment and communities.
Solar power on the other hand can peacefully coexist within communities while technological advancement has caused the price of solar electricity to drop by 89% in 10 years – making it an electricity source for the future.
10. Solar Energy Supply Are Increasingly Connected To Electricity Grids
Did you know that you can sell your excess solar power back to the electricity grid and gain rebates off your electricity bill?
Countries like Singapore allow consumers and businesses to sell back their excess solar electricity generated back to the grid through the Enhanced Central Intermediary Scheme.
As more countries, like the United States, begin to embrace this flexible approach to solar power, solar installations (both commercial and residential) will be able to enjoy a faster ROI and spur faster adoption of solar power!
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